Fountain Pens -
ready to use
Fountain Pens Inc. was established in 1976. Chris Robinson,
(n.b. Chris is a Miss and not a Mr), was an avid collector who branched out into
Vintage Fountain Pen restoration and then into sales.
Chris now offers a large variety of
vintage fountain pens and desktop items via the web and has built up a
successful business based on her love of vintage pens. The
testimonials Chris receives from clients are indicative of her
dedication and attention to customer service and to the
customer's experience as well as to the quality of her
caught up with Chris and asked her a few questions...
Please tell us a little about your background Chris and how
you caught the 'fountain pen bug'.
How did it all begin? In common with a number of fountain pen
collectors, I caught the collecting "bug" when coming
across an old fountain pen at an antique fair which had been
restored. It was a Conway Stewart No. 75, the model I lost at
school. From that moment I was hooked.
How did this passion turn into the Vintage Fountain Pens Inc.
my early working life spent in retail and marketing, it was
only a matter of time before I started to sell the pens I had
restored in London antique centres and fairs. Whether
customers bought because of my enthusiasm or they appreciated
the care taken in restoration, it is difficult to tell.
However, a new owner seems to quickly bond with their vintage
fountain pen so I am sure they are satisfied with their
purchase as they often return to my site.
pens are very affordable for such a slice of history and
quality. What are the most popular types?
regard to date, pens manufactured between 1920 and 1950 are
the most popular - Parker, Waterman, Swan, Sheaffer, Conway
Stewart etc. The vintage fountain pen collector will be
looking for a good example of model, finish and filling
mechanism. The general purchaser will simply wish to have an
attractive and working vintage fountain pen in good condition
- either for their own everyday use or as a gift for that
special occasion or to present to a member of their family. So
because vintage pens sell for differing reasons, in my
particular experience, there is no one pen which sells more
than others. Even ink cartridge filling pens are now sought
after, primarily by general users.
what are the most valuable and rarest Vintage Fountain Pens?
view on which pen is the most desirable will differ from
person to person. A “family” pen will have an intrinsic
value over and above its material worth. For example, a hard
rubber 1920’s Waterman where the gold band has been engraved
with the message “With sincere gratitude. Mr. & Mrs Shaw
& Baby.” has a greater value than a similar model, when
you realise that it originated from grateful parents following
an emergency delivery by a policeman! Rare pens include
early silver or gold overlay eyedroppers by the major
manufacturers of the period and, more recently, pens vintage
and non-vintage, made specifically for the collectors’
How difficult are these Vintage Fountain Pens to source these
Chris: I am
fortunate in that I have been dealing in vintage pens since
the late 1970’s so I have a number of contacts regarding
stock. Also people contact me regarding pens they have found
following a family house clear out. Even so, rare models are
becoming more and more difficult to source.
Digger: Can you
please tell us about your restoration service?
great satisfaction in taking a pen previously ignored in a
drawer for 20-30 years and restoring it to, as near as
possible, its former glory. This skill, initially self taught,
was subsequently enhanced by expert tuition from the late
Arthur Twydle - to whom I remain grateful.
Restoring your own vintage pens is fun. Restoring customers’
fountain pens is a responsibility not to be taken lightly.
Vintage pens are usually very brittle, have hardened inner
sacs and seized up mechanisms. Even a very simple repair can
be tricky and very time-consuming and some, despite one’s
best efforts, become casualties. Thankfully these are few.
Restoration charges vary depending on the filling mechanism,
fault and the need for spare parts and in no way reflect the
time and care involved. It is however, tremendously rewarding
to return a pen to its owner once again in working order,
particularly if it has been handed down the generations.
Besides pens, what other items do you offer?
my website (vintagefountainpensinc) there is a section
entitled “Desktop Items”. Here you will find items such as
inkwells, blotters, stationery boxes, early writing sets etc.
This section is always worth a look when you are browsing the
site. Currently I have a particularly pleasing silver
stationery box and blotter from the late 1800’s.
You will also find a “Sold Archive” section for both
fountain pens and desktop items. It provides information to
budding vintage fountain pen/writing equipment collectors and
social history students. Each piece forms part of the
collective history of its period and has a history unique to
that particular item. For example, in the 1930’s a silver
banded fountain pen was purchased and inscribed by estate
workers, with no doubt hard earned wages, as a silver wedding
gift to the land owner. It was reported recently that before
the National Health Service, when health care had to be paid
for, a man pawned his fountain pen to raise funds to pay for
his wife’s hospital bill. A writing cabinet was a
presentation piece to recognise 40 years of loyal service in a
period when jobs were for “life”. Just three examples
which only scratch the surface of the lifetime of memories
held within each item. A treasure trove of history that no new
fountain pen or desktop item could convey.
In addition I offer a “Gift Voucher” service which is
ideal for those customers who would like to gift a vintage
fountain pen but are unsure as to which one to purchase.
What are your thoughts on 'the text and Facebook generation'
and the future of handwriting?
is a great tool for quick and easy communication and I
personally find it very useful. With regard to the “Facebook
generation” - whilst I am not a Facebook member it is an
excellent way of communicating with a large number of people
of varying ages, some of whom find their way to my site.
With regard to the future of handwriting, despite my best
efforts and having used hundreds of pens over the years, mine
is such that I am really in no position to comment. However, a
number of customers comment that, where in the past they have
used biros, their handwriting has improved when using a
vintage fountain pen nib. I stress the word “vintage” as
new nibs provide a very different writing experience.
are the most enjoyable aspects of running Vintage Fountain
Restoring and supplying vintage fountain pens ready to use
today. There is great satisfaction in taking an item handed
down from grandfather to mother to son or daughter or, as in
one case, found in a gutter forty years ago, and used until it
seized up, and restoring it to provide the same satisfaction
and length of service as when it was originally manufactured.
A fountain pen is not a fashion accessory, although it can be
used as such, it has a curious way of attaching itself to its
owner. People remember with fondness the pen they lost or the
pen given to them on graduation or some other special
occasion. They remember their mother's handwriting when making
up a list for the grocer or writing a special message in a
birthday card. I enjoy providing an opportunity for customers
to become part of the social history of writing equipment for
Can you tell us what sort of feedback and comments you are
getting from customers?
And where are these customers coming from?
web is of course a wonderful tool for reaching wider markets.
I sell primarily to the UK/European market but also to Hong
Kong, U.S.A., Israel and Australia.
are your plans for the future for Vintage Fountain Pens Inc?
continue to provide a good service and to build on our current
Fountain Pens - ready to use
Fountain Pens Inc. (VFPI) was established under its former
name, Vintage Fountain Pens, in 1976.
provide vintage fountain pens – restored and ready to use
today and vintage desktop items. Vintage fountain pens are by
their very nature second, third or even fourth hand, condition
will vary and this is stated and reflected in the price.
fountain pen gift box is available free of charge with each
purchase upon request. Just tick the relevant box at checkout.
pens are part of our social history. Few items these days can
be handed down from grandfather to mother to son or daughter
and provide the same satisfaction and length of service. Those
I meet at fairs remember the pen given to them on graduation
or some other special occasion, or their mother's handwriting
when making up a list for the grocer or writing a special
message in a birthday card. Others, no longer enamoured of
"biro" or "gel", arrive at my stall
seeking a pen which reflects their personality, is
aesthetically pleasing, a pleasure to use and reliable for
everyday office and personal use.
Vintage Fountain Pens Inc.
PO Box 7242
Phone: 07932 037 630